Autumn Road Trips to New England
Museums, halls of fame, battlefields and fun for every family member
The sandy, saltwater days of summer are dwindling, but there’s still time for a family vacation before the snow sets in. New England’s autumn foliage draws Central PA’s families north to communities that offer something for every member. Enjoy outdoor fun, downtown culture and shopping during a long weekend as the weather turns crisp.
- Starting Point: Harrisburg, PA
- Destination: Cooperstown, NY
- Drive time: 4.5 hours
The National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum This shrine to America’s Sport is one of the country’s most popular destinations. Watch film footage, see players’ artifacts and visit the Hall of Fame room. Note that the museum’s hours change this month. Now through Labor Day Monday, it’s open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. After that, the hours change to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is open seven days a week. Admission is $16.50 for adults, $6 for children ages 7-12 and free for children under 7. For more information, visit www.baseballhalloffame.org.
What Dad will like: He’ll get to explore three stories of baseball treasures. What won’t he like?
What Mom will like: While Dad is reading every name on every plaque in the Hall of Fame, she can be in a league her own by visiting “Diamond Dreams,” an exhibit about the history of women in baseball.
What the kids will like: The museum has self-guided education scavenger hunts, a miniature soft playing field for special needs children and The Sandlot Kids’ Clubhouse (a learning center for children ages 2-8).
- Starting Point: York, PA
- Destination: Bennington, VT (with a side trip to Manchester Center)
- Drive time: 6 hours
This picturesque town nestled between the Taconic and Green mountains is home to Bennington College, the Grandma Moses Gallery & Schoolhouse within the Bennington Museum and the Vermont Covered Bridge Museum.
What Dad will like: The Bennington Car Show will be held from Sept. 12-14 at the Green Mountain Racetrack. The show is in its 42nd year and includes a whole weekend of cars, vendors and more. Admission is $8 per day. Call the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce at 802-447-3311 for travel information.
Also, the headquarters of Hemmings Motor News is located in this little Vermont town. Stop by their Car Lover’s Oasis Store for T-shirts, calendars and die-cast models. For more information, visit www.hemmings.com.
What Mom will like: Take a 40-minute drive north to Manchester Center for outlet shopping. Visit the Northshire Bookstore, an anything-but-ordinary selection of books housed in a former inn and restaurant. Open till 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, the bookstore is the perfect place to relax once all the outlet stores have all closed for the evening.
What the kids will like: What kid doesn’t love ice cream? Vermont is home to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Stop by Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in Manchester for dose of Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey.
- Starting Point: Carlisle, PA
- Destination: Saratoga Springs, NY
- Drive time: 6 hours
This resort town draws crowds who come to watch Thoroughbred racing at the Saratoga Race Course, the oldest operating track in the country. The racing season ends after Labor Day weekend, making fall the perfect time to visit without the crowds.
What Dad will like: Get rid of the off-season blues with a visit to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Learn all about Secretariat, Man O’ War and Fourstardave while browsing through a collection of trophies, jockeys’ racing silks and Thoroughbred memorabilia. For more information, visit www.racingmuseum.org.
What Mom will like: Saratoga is the summer home to the New York City Ballet. That’s why this city has the National Museum of Dance, the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to the profession. For more information, visit www.dancemuseum.org.
What the kids will like: They’ve been cooped up in the car for a long time, so let them run wild at the Saratoga National Historic Park, the site of the Battle of Saratoga during the American Revolution. Four square miles can accommodate even the most road-weary child. Spread out a picnic lunch and party like it’s 1777.
Autumn in New England is worth a road trip or two — or three. But, if you can’t get away this fall, consider heading North when the first snowflakes fall. By then, it’ll be time for a family ski vacation.
Anna Seip is the editor of Central Penn Parent. Bridget Brennan, a former summer intern, is now spending a semester abroad.